Lummis House

200 E Ave 43
Los Angeles, CA 90031

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Preserving The Soul of Los Angeles, an Esotouric Salon at Lummis House

In 1895, the journalist, author and collector Charles Fletcher Lummis gathered a crew of history-loving friends to form The Landmarks Club of Southern California, dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the endangered places that told the story of the Southland.

Without their passionate advocacy, the derelict adobe Missions would have melted away before the century turned.

Today, Southern California’s landmarks are threatened by corporate developers who seek to extract the maximum value from every inch of land, their demolition and spot-zoning requests enabled by well-greased politicians. Often, the only thing standing in the way of the wrecking ball is a dedicated citizen-activist fighting for a place they love too much to lose without a fight.

They might not realize it, but every local preservationist stands on the shoulders of Lummis.

L.A.’s most eclectic historic tour company Esotouric invites you to gather in the spirit of Charles Fletcher Lummis and in his beloved arroyo home El Alisal, to encourage and learn from preservation activists, mix and mingle with fellow history lovers, enjoy tasty snacks, tour the historic home and gardens and imagine the Los Angeles you want to live in.

Our special guest for the August 2019 debut salon is preservation activist Steven Luftman, appearing in conversation with Esotouric’s Richard Schave. Steven will share his personal path to loving and saving old buildings, including his successful landmarking of Kurt Meyer’s Lytton Savings (1960), continued threats to the “protected” building from Frank Gehry’s mega-project, his efforts to preserve and designate L.A.’s unique bungalow courts, vernacular apartments and Tom Bergin’s Irish pub, and tips for picking the landmarking battles that will feed your soul. A no-holds-barred Q&A follows. Plus, Professor Jeremiah Axelrod, Director for the Institute for the Study of Los Angeles (ISLA) at Occidental College, with a status report on the proposal to base ISLA at Lummis House.

Come be part of a supportive and creative preservation community, as we reactivate El Alisal and draw on the home’s long tradition of activism, storytelling, social justice and good fellowship. It wouldn’t be the same without YOU!

Salon Schedule:
2.30pm – Check in desk opens
2.40 to 3:45pm – Tours of Lummis House
4.00pm – Professor Jeremiah Axelrod opening remarks
4.15 to 5.15pm – Steven Luftman and Richard Schave in conversation
5.15 to 5.30pm – Q & A
5.30pm – Coffee & sweets
6.30pm – Salon ends, see you next time!


Born in Hollywood, Steven Luftman gained a lifelong appreciation for art and architecture in the mid-century cultural institutions of Los Angeles: at five he opened a savings account at Lytton Savings on the Sunset Strip, he took art classes at the then brand-new William Pereira-designed Los Angeles County Art Museum, took in movies at the Cinerama Dome, and with his mother and sister experienced L.A. Philharmonic rehearsals at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. After graduating from the Craig Ellwood/James Tyler-designed campus of Art Center College of Design, he moved to New York City to work in advertising.

Returning to Los Angeles in 1997, Steven used the seminal Gebhard & Winter “An Architectural Guidebook to Los Angeles” in his search for the perfect apartment. With some luck, Steven and his partner Karen found themselves in what would become the Mendel and Mabel Meyer Courtyard Apartments (Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #1096). While always a preservationist and a social activist at heart, it wasn’t until his beloved home of eighteen years was threatened with demolition in 2015 that he wrote his first Historic-Cultural Monument application.

To date, Steven has written or co-written ten HCM applications, and has been an active participant in trying to save fifteen historically-significant buildings. He also campaigns for affordable housing and is active in the tenants’ rights movement, and can regularly be found in City Hall supporting the preservation efforts of others. Steven longs for the day when greedy developers take a break from trying to destroy the historic buildings and neighborhoods of Los Angeles so he can take enough time off to enjoy his other passion, racing his 1978 Crosslé Formula Ford.